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Tag Archives | Cranston

R.I. economy needs investment in modern and efficient transportation infrastructure

Train Station at T.F. Green Airport, photo from RIDOT

Last week, Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced that, from July through the end of the year, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commuter rail service will be free for people traveling within the state. The intention of the pilot program is to attract new riders who, in theory, will then realize the convenience of the rail line and continue to utilize it in the future. However, unless you are commuting to and from Boston, commuter rail service in Rhode Island is not very useful. Despite offering three MBTA stations in the state, service proves to be infrequent and unreliable. Lack of coordinated policy in solving transportation problems is a major cause. Large expenditures for highways and extending MBTA service to South County, albeit solving some traffic problems, have failed to eliminate growing traffic congestion throughout the Providence metropolitan area. If some action is not taken, rising immobility may erode the basic economic fiber of the state.

To become more economically independent from Boston and promote more local sustainable development, Rhode Island must develop a stronger public transit system. For example, looking to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor connecting Providence with Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C., it is one of the region’s most important transportation arteries. Yet, most Rhode Islanders associate the route only with long-distance commuting, which is an unfortunate association falling far short of its full potential.

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Public workshops on the 6/10 interchange hosted by RIDOT

route-6-10-label

Press Release from RIDOT:


RIDOT Announces Public Workshops for 6-10 Interchange Design Options

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) today announced a series of public workshops for the reconstruction of the 6-10 interchange as part of a process to reimagine this important transportation infrastructure.

The Route 6-10 Interchange Project has road and bridge elements that have been in design for approximately 30 years. Within the project limits there are seven structurally deficient bridges that need to be addressed immediately. The project, which is of regional significance, consists of addressing structurally deficient bridges and reconfiguring the interchange to accommodate local and regional travel for commuters and businesses.

The Department is committed to meet an April 14 deadline for submission to the Federal Highway Administration’s recently announced FASTLANE grant program. The program, announced on February 26, makes $800 million available for projects of national or regional significance. RIDOT is applying for a $150 million grant for this project.

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ProJo: Woman seriously injured after being struck by car while crossing Phenix Ave. in Cranston

walkinpvd-iconA 40-year-old woman was seriously injured Friday afternoon after she was struck by a car just west of the intersection of Atwood Avenue and Phenix Avenue.

The initial investigation by the Cranston police accident-reconstruction team and eyewitnesses indicate that the pedestrian was struck just before 6 p.m. while crossing Phenix Avenue, from Stop & Shop towards the Burger King.

The automobile was traveling west on Phenix Avenue. There is a marked crosswalk at the location of the accident.


And from WPRI:

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WJAR: New apartments coming soon behind Garden City

garden-city

“It’s our belief that there is a movement out away from the big suburban house. People want to live in the heart of something where they can be a part of the community and where they have all the amenities and access to all the great things that are happening at Garden City,” said Jordan Durham of D+P Real Estate.

First, I think it is sad that Garden City can be described as having a ‘behind’. Great urban spaces shouldn’t have a front or back, they should be seemless. It is telling I suppose that Providence Place is also often descibed as having a ‘behind’ or ‘back’.

Second, as I said on Twitter the other day, I might pay a lot of money to ensure that I never had to go to Garden City ever again (I really cannot stand it there), of course I’m sure there are more than a few people who would say the same about Providence, so to each his own I suppose.

All that said, it is encouraging to see people putting real money into apartment living in the suburban sections of our urban core. This won’t be car-free urbanist living to be sure, the article describes the development as featuring underground parking with elevator access, but it will give people the option of dipping their toes into the environment of living closely with neighbors, the option to at least consider walking to Garden City to buy groceries or have dinner… a simulacrum of urban living. It is a start.

For more information on the development visit liveatgardencity.com.

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WPRI: Pedestrian hit by car, 4th in RI this week

walkinpvd-iconCranston police are investigating after another pedestrian was struck on a Rhode Island roadway.

According to police, the person was walking westbound on Narragansett Boulevard near the intersection with Aurora Avenue just before 8 p.m. Tuesday when the collision occurred.

The pedestrian was transported to Rhode Island Hospital with serious injuries, police said.

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Repost: Seeking a solution (to flooding and beach closures)

After the 2010 floods, I wrote about the public desire for some sort of solution to prevent future flooding. Spoiler, we can’t prevent future floods, but we can change what we’re doing to mitigate the impact of flooding.

We haven’t had a giant flood since, but related to the flooding problem is stormwater runoff polluting the bay. Bob Plain writes today on RIFuture about how Warwick has been heavily impacted by beach closures related to pollution caused by runoff.

Also today, Save The Bay is holding a press conference about the high number of beach closings this year. The AP’s Erika Niedowski tweets from the press conference:

That is to say, I believe, that the Providence Combined Sewer Overflow Project is working, but our paved and other impervious surfaces are still causing us harm.

In 2010 it was massive flooding which was supposed to be our wake-up call about the damage our built environment was doing to us. We did not learn many lessons it would seem from those floods, as a year later a smiling Cranston Mayor Fung celebrated the opening of a new Stop & Shop on the banks of the Pawtuxet.

Will we learn any lessons from our 2013 beach closures wake-up call?

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“Leh Wi Tok” film premiere, April 7

From Emmy® award winning Pawtucket, RI Producer/Director, John Lavall:

Can a single voice over the radio move listeners beyond the pain and anger of recent memories – violence that pit neighbors against each other, the exploitation of child soldiers, unimaginable atrocities, and the displacement of millions? For the people of Sierra Leone, a nation struggling to repair itself after more than a decade of war, the answer to that question comes in the simple Krio phrase “Leh Wi Tok” (Let us talk).

This Thursday 4/07/11 at 7:00pm • Park Theatre, 848 Park Avenue, Cranston • Tickets $20.00 • Hosted by the Foundation for West Africa

My partner’s brother and his girlfriend traveled to Sierra Leone to work on this film. I saw a preview of the film earlier this year and it was very powerful and very well done. I’m looking forward to seeing the whole thing.

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Biking the Washington Secondary Bikepath

Washington Secondary Bikepath

This weekend I got to explore a portion of the Washington Secondary Bikepath. The path currently stretches from Cranston to Coventry along which it is dedicated bikepath. North of the Cranston end, one could get there via roads, and West of Coventry, the path continues unpaved. Like the Blackstone path, this one ends unceremoniously as the paved portion simply yields to dirt leaving little option but to simply turn around.

A good friend of mine lives near the Warwick Mall, so I met up with him near that portion of the path. We biked towards Coventry as far as the pavement would lead us, about nine miles, but had I started at the northernmost end, it would have been closer to 14 miles.

Like the other paths, this one is relatively flat, nicely paved, and there are few street crossings. There are several scenic bridges, and on a quiet day, one could conceivably get up some good speed, but Saturday had a little too strong of a breeze for me to put it to the test. What I did get to test, however, was taking pictures from my phone mounted to my handlebars, like this one below:

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Snowblogging: Sick Day Edition

Ugh, I am sick today, snowblogging will be light as I sit at home and sniffle. I’m looking out the window, when it let’s up I may try a run to Walgreen’s (if they are open) for some medication:

Readers are filling in the snowblogging gaps, submit your photos to our Flickr Group or email them to contact@gcpvd.org.

These photos are from early this morning from reader Jim Beller:


RIPTA was running early this morning.

Matthew Coolidge added these photos to our Flickr Group this morning:

1000000718

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A proposal for the Core Connector and a Frequent Service network

The City and RIPTA are having a public meeting about the Core Connector Study on Thursday. Before that, I thought I’d lay out some of my thoughts on the issue.

First, let me share my thoughts on having streetcars in Providence. The short story is I support them. Let’s say, for the sake of having a number, that the Core Connector built out as streetcars will cost $80 million¹. Certainly, a lot could be done for $80 million. But the Core Connector is not simply the school bus for Brown that people² are so flippant to say.

I view the Core Connector in large part as a marketing scheme for RIPTA and the City of Providence. Many people who’ve never ridden a bus will ride the streetcars. If RIPTA builds it and runs it properly, with reasonable fares, frequent service, well trained operators, ease of use, etc., it will be a great introduction to mass transit for these new users. Then when RIPTA makes the case for funding, as they will always need to do, the chorus of haters will be tempered. It is also a strong stake in the ground wherein RIPTA and the state leadership are saying they believe in public transit in Rhode Island and are willing to lay out a pile of money and steel rails in the ground to back that up.

For the city, having a streetcar line is a marketing dream. The shiny photos of happy people riding the rails are a brochure makers dream. They’ll be plastered all over the city’s and the convention center’s websites (and this website). It is a strong message for economic developers to send to companies looking to relocate here. ‘Look at us, we have a strong commuter rail line tied to a streetcar line and excellent bus service. Come here, your employees will love it!’

And plus that, we get a streetcar line connecting the two largest employment areas in the state with the train station and Downcity. In addition to serving existing riders and institutions, our proposed routing will help spur development in the Route 195 land, one of the best areas of development opportunity on the East Coast.

Could we save some money and put some rubber wheels on the road and call it a Core Connector? Sure, but we would not get anywhere near the bang for the buck that streetcars will provide. I think it is a worthy investment for our city and our state.

Now, onto where I think said streetcar should go and what service I think could supplement it.

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Cranston City Council Resolution passed in regards to the proposed CVS in Edgewood

Cranston City Council Resolution passed in regards to the proposed CVS in Edgewood:

THE CITY OF CRANSTON

RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL ENCOURAGING RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT TO PROTECT AND PRESERVE THE HISTORIC WATERFRONT NATURE OF THE EDGEWOOD/PAWTUXET VILLAGE AREA

John E. Lanni, Jr., Council President

Resolved, That

Whereas, The City of Cranston was recently ranked the best community to live in Rhode Island by GoLocal.com, and

Whereas, one of the aspects which contributed significantly to this ranking was the historical, waterfront Edgewood/Pawtuxet Village area, calling it one of the State’s most “picturesque villages” and

Whereas, area residents, as well as the City of Cranston generally, take great pride in the historical and tranquil nature of this community and are concerned with the preservation of neighborhood’s character and seek to prevent further erosion by irresponsible developments which are incompatible with the area, and

Whereas, the tranquil, historical waterfront character of this neighborhood is under constant threat and vulnerable to irresponsible overly aggressive commercial development by developers motivated solely by bottom line profits whoignore their corporate civic responsibility to the area residents in which they seek to locate or develop, and

Whereas, the CVS Corporation is currently in the active planning stages of a new store to be located at the corner of Broad Street and Norwood Avenue, one of the highly visible entry points to this “picturesque village” and historic waterfront community, and

Whereas, the project by CVS presents a unique opportunity to not only preserve and protect the picturesque, historical and waterfront character of the area, but also enhance it, and has exhibited sensitivity to local concerns and corporate responsibility in developments in other historical areas in of the State, and U/Resolutions/Edgewood Pawtuxet Village CVS

Whereas, the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Review receive various applications and petitions from individuals doing business or seeking to do business in this area which present an opportunity to present further deterioration of the underlying nature of this community, and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT, that the Cranston City Council hereby appeals to the Chief Executive Officer and President of the CVS Corporation to be a good neighbor to the resident areas, by being responsive to their concerns, and assist the City of Cranston in preserving and protecting this neighborhood;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the Cranston City Council hereby urges the CVS Corporation to work closely with area residents, the Mayor, the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Review on this project, to protect this “picturesque village” and historic waterfront community as a valuable asset to the City of Cranston; and further urges the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Review to make the preservation of the historical, waterfront character of this neighborhood a primary consideration in any future projects they review.

The City Clerk shall forward certified copies of this Resolution to the Chief Executive Officer and President of CVS, the members of the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Review.

Sponsored by Council Vice President Livingston, Cosponsored by Councilmen Lupino

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CVS in Edgewood, Update

CVS has responded to concerns about their proposed store in the Edgewood section of Cranston offering a “colonial” design alternative, which does not address many of the issues concerning the community, or taking 24-hours off the table.

The above renderings (courtesy of the STOP CVS in the Historic Edgewood Neighborhood, Cranston RI Facebook page) represent the design consessions CVS is bringing to the table. This is instead of their typical beige dryvit box they plop down at most locations. This alternative design would also remove the large sign pylon (which would require Cranston zoning approval) and brings the landscaping and distance from neighboring properties in bounds whereas they will not need zoning variances.

According to an article in the Journal, company officials are also “considering” adding more windows and a pedestrian walkway across the 75-car parking lot.

Considering!?!!? a pedestrian walkway!?!?!??! CONSIDERING!?

OK, I have some harsh words for CVS in a second, but first, WHAT THE F*CK CRANSTON!? How in the world does your city’s zoning allow CVS to consider a pedestrian walkway? Like they can or cannot provide a walkway, whatever the hell they feel like, no big whoop. I’m well aware that Providence zoning is probably similarly weak (someone please cite for me where Providence requires pedestrian accomodations if it does so I can feel better), but I’m yelling at Cranston right now. Traffic is a problem that Cranston has, they are well aware of it, in fact the city is working on a traffic plan for the very intersection where this CVS is hoping to locate. Hey Cranston, you know a good way to fight traffic? ALLOW PEOPLE A WAY TO WALK IN YOUR CITY! My Maude, my head is exploding here!

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CVS in Edgewood

Neighbors in the Edgewood section of Cranston are opposing plans for a 24-hour, drive thru CVS in their neighborhood.


Image from Respect4Edgewood

The proposed CVS would replace the existing Rite Aid on the corner of Norwood Avenue and Broad Street, Rocky’s Hardware would also be displaced from their current location. Directly across from the proposed CVS sits a suburban style monster of a Walgreens.


Image from Google StreetView

The current building housing Rite Aid and Rocky’s won’t win any design prizes, but at least it is built to the street with the parking screened behind/beside it. It is good urban form.


Image from Google StreetView

Tearing down a building properly built to the street to build a new building with a drive-thru situated in a sea of parking is so wrong-headed for this neighborhood that I don’t even know how to begin to write about it. Luckily, Cranston Style already has a great post about it, which you should go read.

From the comments on Cranston Style:

Update: The Cranston Planning & Site Review committee sent CVS back to the drawing board. The next Planning Cmte meeting is 9AM June 2, 3rd Floor, City Hall. THE PUBLIC IS WELCOME to attend & voice opinions. Respect4Edgewood is hosting a neighborhood meeting that evening, June 2, 6PM at William Hall Library on Broad Street.

Like I said, I don’t even know where to start on making the most urban part of Cranston more auto-centric. But really, how anachronistic is a drug store built in the middle of a parking lot with two drive-thru lanes at a time when gas is crawling over $3/gallon again?

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Seeking a solution


Video from WJAR-TV Providence, extended footage at WCVB-TV Boston

In the media we’ve been hearing a lot of talk about solutions to these flooding issues. People in areas prone to flooding wanting solutions from the government, etc. The fact is, there isn’t really a solution. If the Pawtuxet or other rivers want to leave their banks, they will.

But that does not mean there are not ways to mitigate the impact and severity of floods. Look at this table of the historical crests of the Pawtuxet River:

Pawtuxet River Historical Crests
Rank Height Date
(*) 20.79 ft 03/31/2010
(1) 14.98 ft 03/15/2010
(2) 14.50 ft 06/07/1982
(3) 13.68 ft 10/15/2005
(4) 13.26 ft 01/26/1979
(5) 13.11 ft 04/25/1983
(6) 12.57 ft 06/08/2006
(7) 12.40 ft 04/17/2007
(8) 11.88 ft 03/25/2010
(9) 11.86 ft 03/31/2001
(10) 11.84 ft 01/26/1978

Via: NOAA

Seven of the top 10 crests are in the last 10 years (the top 2 being this month). What is causing the river to flood so high now? I suspect that it is a combination of climate change and development in the river’s watershed. On the climate front, we just got 10 inches of rain in 2 days. That is obviously not normal. Will it happen again soon? Probably not. Thinking back over the storms we’ve had over the last decade, will it be another 50 or 100 years before it happens again? Maybe not. Climate change experts have been predicting larger, wetter storms for our region, and it certainly feels like those predictions are coming true.

On the development front, well, we here on this site quite like dense urban development. The key problem with the development patterns in the Cranston and Warwick areas is the dependence on the automobile is causing us to pave wide swathes of the landscape. That pavement prevents water from soaking into the soil and sends it all flowing directly into the river. Look at the video above, now look at this aerial image:

Image from Bing Maps

The river has nowhere to go, the mall parking lots just send the water straight into the river and when the river rises, it can’t soak into the land to dissapate the flooding. Head east and north of here and you see more pavement.

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Warwick Intermodal Bike and Pedestrian Access


Photo (cc) pugetsoundphotowalks

PRESS RELEASE
WARWICK INTERMODAL TRAIN AND BIKE ACCESS
Greenwich Bay Watershed Group
401 738-4347 FAX 401 679-0033

March 8, 2010

The Greenwich Bay Watershed Group is announcing an initiative to jump-start a safe bike and pedestrian pathway to the Warwick Intermodal Train Station. The path would connect to the existing Cranston-to-Coventry bike path.

With the economy turning sour, residents in our watershed are hard-pressed to find jobs locally. In increasing numbers they are becoming commuters to seek and find work in Boston, as well as in Connecticut shoreline areas. For them and us, the Intermodal should be a lifeline to badly needed jobs. It is a facility that can help make Warwick work.

With energy prices again on the rise, and mounting concerns about carbon footprints and global warming, commuters are turning to bikes and walking as modes of transport to train stations, buses, and job sites. Conveniently, the Warwick Intermodal Train Station is located just a couple of miles from the existing Washington Secondary Bike Path. But the challenges that cyclists and walkers face are significant, especially along a short stretch of Greenwich Avenue.

We are scheduling neighborhood meetings to discuss the development of this bike path link and how neighborhoods in the area can hook into this new bike path to the Intermodal.

CONTACT:
Richard Langseth
Executive Director
Greenwich Bay Watershed Group
170 Budlong Farm Road
Warwick, RI 02886
401 738-4347

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